Study: Car Culture Cements Suburban Unsustainability

America’s suburbs are becoming more diverse — economically and racially — but they are still just as dependent and just as unsustainable because of car culture.

A new study just published in the journal Urban Planning reveals that even as the demographics shift, suburbs remain defined by their dependence on driving and low-density development — which then gives suburbanites a distinct political identity.

“Whether supportive of automobility or not, they are locked in an environment and lifestyle that make dependence of the car a necessity,” said study author, Pierre Filion of the University of Waterloo. “Much of the world view of suburban residents is fashioned by what they see through the windshields of their cars.”

Challenges to that dynamic — such as the experience of metro Toronto — have met with backlash, writes Filion. About 175 million Americans live in suburbs. Those areas are key “swing districts” (and, at least in the 2018 midterms, swung Democratic).